Symposium Programme

Preliminary Programme

15 April 2011, Edge Hill University – H3 (Health Building)

9.30 – Arrival and Registration

10.00-11.30 Brief welcome from Carol Poole, Head of Media at Edge Hill

Keynote speechProf. Julian Petley, Brunel University: Freedoms of Expressions versus the Need for Protection. An Overview of Current Laws and Regulations

Keynote speechProf. David Nash, Oxford Brookes University: Models of censorship. The example of blasphemy


11.30-11.50 Coffee break

11.50-13.20 First Panel

Brian Chama, Roehampton University: Censorship and journalistic practice in Zambia

Esra Arsan, İstanbul Bilgi University: Killing me softly with his words. The impact of censorship and self-censorship on Turkish journalists

Anastasiia Grynko, The National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”, Ukraine: Negotiating censorship and pressures on media research in Ukraine

Elina Bardach-Yalov, Bar-Ilan University, Israel: Media Is under Attack: Political, Economic and Self-Censorship in Russia

Prof. Tomasz Malinowski, Edge Hill University and Lincoln University: Film-makers and censorship in communist Poland

13.20-14.20 Lunch

14.20-15.50 Second Panel

Stephen Carver, University of East Anglia: Weird tales from the vault of fear – the EC comics controversy and its legacy

Jennifer Skellington, Oxford Brookes University: Silencing sounds – an investigation into the censorship of music criticism within the English broadsheet press from 1981 to 2011.

Roger Cottrell, Edge Hill University: Censorship, globalisation and the coercive state in the age of quasi-globalisation – the internet, war on terror and the response of the dominant hegemony

15.50-16.00 Coffee break

16.00-16.45 Keynote speechProf. Dennis Hayes, University of Derby: Fear and Self-Censorship in the Academy


16.45 Brief summary, Jason Lee (University of Derby and MeCCSA)

17.00 Departure


Prof. Dennis Hayes, University of Derby: Fear and Self-Censorship in the Academy

2011 started badly in Europe with the Hungarian government’s new censorship laws. Although explicit and moralistic they weren’t unique. They followed a pattern of banning and censorship that is commonplace and familiar with laws and regulations to censor ‘hate speech’, Holocaust denial and ‘incitement to violence.’ Public censorship of this sort has a more worrying parallel in private censorship or self-censorship. In this hard hitting presentation Professor Dennis Hayes, founder of Academics For Academic Freedom (AFAF), will argue that in the universities today it is not public or managerial censorship but self-censorship that is the threat to academic freedom and the beacon of free thought that the academy should be to all is being extinguished from within.

Dennis Hayes is Professor of Education at the University of Derby and a visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University. His co-authored book, The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education (2009), has been described as ‘one of the most important books to have been written in at least the last twenty years in that crucial area where philosophy, policy and practice coincide’.

In 2006-7, he was the first joint president of the University and College Union, the largest post-compulsory education union in the world. He is the founder of the campaign group Academics For Academic Freedom (AFAF): and in 2009 he edited and contributed to a special edition of the British Journal of Educational Studies on academic freedom.

Contact details:

Prof. David Nash, Oxford Brookes: Models of censorship. The example of blasphemy

David Nash is Professor of History at Oxford Brookes University. Although he has written on Secularism, Secularisation and the history of shame he is best known for his work on the history of blasphemy which was produced a number of articles and two monographs: Blasphemy in Britain (1999) and Blasphemy in the Christian World (2007). He has given advice to MPs as well as giving evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Religious Offences in 2003. He has also given advice to NGOs in New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands and the United States. Within the last year he has been advising groups in Ireland about the recent legislative changes that have altered the crime of blasphemy in that country.

Contact details:

Prof. Julian Petley, Brunel University: Freedoms of Expressions versus the Need for Protection. An Overview of Current Laws and Regulations

Although freedom of expression is thought of as one of the hallmarks of a democratic society, actual democracies vary considerably in the degrees of freedom which they permit. Contrary to the impression given by the popular press, crusading politicians and various pressure groups, censorship is alive and well in the UK, and this paper will outline some of the ways in which this works, with particular reference to representations which involve images of sexuality and/or violence. Examples will include the Obscene Publications Act, the Video Recordings Act, the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act (which makes it an offence even to possess what it calls ‘extreme pornography’), the Communications Act and the various laws pertaining to child protection. The paper will also focus on how these laws are interpreted and enforced by bodies such as the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the British Board of Film Classification, Ofcom and the Internet Watch Foundation. Opinions about the desirability of these laws may well vary, but it is important that debates about censorship and freedom of expression are informed by an awareness of the relevant laws and institutions, and of how these operate. This paper will thus attempt to provide a factual introduction to the day’s discussions.

Julian Petley is Professor of Screen Media and Journalism. His interests span the cinema, television and the press, with a particular emphasis on matters pertaining to policy, regulation and freedom of expression.

He is a member of the editorial boards of the British Journalism Review, Vertigo and fifth-estate-online, and also principal editor of the Journal of British Cinema and Television, the prime site for those interested in publishing cutting-edge research in these areas. His interest in British cinema is also reflected in the edited collection British Horror Cinema.

Contact details:


Esra Arsan, İstanbul Bilgi University: Killing me softly with his words. The impact of censorship and self-censorship on Turkish journalists

Turkey is a country where democratization process has been repeatedly interrupted by the military interventions in the past 50 years. Because of the weak parliamentary representations followed by the oppressive coup periods, censorship and self-censorship has become an ordinary practice in the news media. Still, although a democratically elected government is in charge in the country, the press censorship is common as a systematic method to silence the alternative views. It is also claimed that self-censorship is quite widespread within the Turkish press. According to Freedom House’s 2010 report, Turkish officials continue to strictly enforce laws and journalists are frequently jailed for discussing the Kurds, the military or political Islam. The government, led by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is continuing to crack down on unfavorable press coverage. A tax authority controlled by the Finance Ministry fined one of the country’s major media companies, the Dogan Group, 826 million lira (US$537 million) in February 2009 and 3.7 billion lira (US$2.4 billion) in September for purported tax evasion. The Dogan Group has consistently reported on the ruling party’s shortcomings and involvement in an Islamic charity scandal in 2008, and the tax case was widely viewed as politicized.When asked about the censorship and self-censorship in the media, a prominent Turkish journalist Mr. Sedat Ergin says: “Look, you do not get to see corruption stories in the Turkish press as often as you could a while back. This is partly due to the fact that a sizeable portion of the press downplay at that, deliberately ignores stories of this nature, and willingly gives up on its right to criticize, while positioning itself close to the government.”

In this paper, I will give a brief background on how and why particular news stories is being censored in Turkey, and I will share the results of a survey which is conducted with the representatives of Turkish journalists.

Contact details:


A paper about horror and censorship, offering an original contextualisation of the post-war genre in America, centring on the influence of EC horror comics, and starting with the moral panic of 1954.

When William M. Gaines inherited ‘Educational Comics’ the company was publishing Biblical stories. Gaines re-branded as ‘Entertaining Comics’ and launched titles about war, crime and horror, soon leading the market with the innovative Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, Weird Science, and The Haunt of Fear – contemporary American gothic about murder, infidelity, and revenge aimed at adults. In Seduction of the Innocent (1954), psychiatrist Dr. Fredric Wertham argued that such comics had a pernicious effect on children. Gaines appeared before the senate subcommittee on juvenile delinquency, and his comics were burned in the street. The hastily imposed and ultra-conservative Code of the Comics Magazine Association of America set the art form back decades.

This paper argues that the visual and narrative codes of EC migrated to mainstream and independent cinema in the 1960s (Hitchcock and Romero), initiating a repeating cycle of transgression and controversy that continues to inform the genre, from the radical ‘American Nightmares’ of pre-Hollywood Hooper to the hyper-real pastiches of Roth and Zombie. A textual doubling is posited: EC-style horror is either selectively assimilated by popular media (for example the Dexter and Walking Dead franchises), or publicly and politically denounced (like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre before it got old enough to be ‘art’). The attendant moral panic in each case is essentially the same, with effects theory-driven calls for censorship versus the more complex discourse of creative freedom and cultural critique.

In a visual presentation, my intention is to synergistically combine cross-media analyses and primary texts that rarely converge, through a structural combination of historicism, narratology, literature, film, art history, and cultural studies.

Contact details:


The purpose of this paper is to examine how the proliferation of internet use has challenged the dominant hegemony in the latter’s efforts to censor and manage information. Of particular interest will be the cultural impact of these developments (e.g. for film and television fiction) before and after 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. My premise is this: consider what would have happened if the My Lai massacre had been captured on mobile phone footage before the Pentagon Papers were leaked to the New York Times? Would the taboo on making critical films of the war, in Hollywood, have been significantly challenged if this had proved the case?

If, as John Milius once said, Vietnam was the first rock and roll war (framed in public perception by movies like Apocalypse Now) then surely Afghanistan and Iraq are the first internet wars. Indeed, even prior to these conflicts, a democratisation of the coverage of significant events was indicated by anti-capitalist protesters making their own films e.g. of the Genoa protests and activities of Berlusconi’s security forces (as in Berlusconi’s Mousetrap) posted on radical sites like Indymedia Ireland. Within 2 years of the Iraq conflict both mercenaries and soldiers were posting images of themselves engaged in atrocities or being quite forthright in their criticism of the conflict. This has fed into the manner in which networks like CNN and al-Jazeera have reported these wars but also into the creation of critical film and television narratives e.g. by Paul Greengrass and Peter Kosmisnky.

In the second part of the paper I refer to the theories of Antonio Gramsci and Guy DeBord to consider how the dominant hegemony is responding to these events using as my case studies the rise to prominence (or notoriety) of Wiki-leaks, the imprisonment of Bradley Manning and ongoing controversy surrounding Julian Assange. I will refer in passing to the Arab Spring and to events closer to home, including the internet crackdown that surrounded recent student protests.

Contact details:

Prof. Tomasz Malinowski, Edge Hill University and Lincoln University: Film-making and censorship in communist Poland

Tomasz Malinowski was one of the founding members of the Solidarity Film Unit in Poland. His paper will address the issue of censorship from the point of view of a film-maker in communist Poland and in Brezhnev’s Russia. He has completed an international lecture tour entitled “The Benefits of Censorship” in the US, France, UK and Japan and has conceived and commissioned “The Banned” Season at Channel Four, during the times when he was C4 Commissioning Editor in Documentary Series.

Contact details:

Jennifer Skellington: Silencing sounds – an investigation into the censorship of music criticism within the English broadsheet press from 1981 to 2011.

“(T)he idea of censorship in British arts coverage has a long history, and it’s self-censorship of course.” (Tom Sutcliffe, Opera critic and Vice-president of the Critic’s Circle, personal interview at his home on 26th August 2006). A series of recent interviews with some of the most prolific English broadsheet music critics from 1981 to the present day have revealed an intricate mélange of rules, expectations and assumptions, some blatant and others implied or subliminal, some self-imposed and others arising from external factors such as genre conventions, ‘house-style’, editorial censorship, commercial pressures, proprietorial strategies or the prevailing political ideology, which have collectively served to dramatically re-shape the nature and content of music criticism within the national press over recent decades. With reference to a series of journalist interviews and both qualitative and qualitative analysis of a sample of English broadsheet newspaper articles, this paper investigates the nature and impact of these factors, considered by many music critics to have curtailed and stifled their scope for creative output and to have limited them from engaging in the more transgressive modes of practice sometimes associated with the specialist music press of the 1970s or their contemporary European counterparts, and the means by which journalists have negotiated these limits to creative practice. The paper will consider how and why these boundaries to critical freedom continue to pervade the arts pages of broadsheet newspapers and undermine the quality of music coverage within the English national press without question, before finally arguing that a relaxation of the current framework must occur if critics are to break through the almost Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth’ modes of practice and covert censorship which must surely deprive broadsheet arts readers of a more liberated and critically informed engagement with their musical environment.

Contact details:


MECCSA Practice Section

Media Department, Edge Hill University

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *